Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Where in the world are the BVSers?

One of the blessings (and sometimes curses) of being an Elgin BVSer is the travel that we get to do. For recruitment, workcamps, orientations, and regional and national conferences we travel across the country visiting with organizations, youth, pastors, churches and colleges. This year we will travel more than most people around the world will in their entire life. That’s a pretty cool and humbling realization. Sometimes travel can get exhausting, but we’re also getting the opportunity to see many new places and meet with truly interesting and inspiring people!

Here is where some of us have been lately:

Kristen and Laura escaped the negative-degree wind chill weather of snowy Elgin and spent the past weekend in Lake Arrowhead, California. They were at a Forum for Theological Exploration Regional Discernment Retreat where they learned about different opportunities in ministry and had time to discern their purpose and call in the future of the church. They also got to meet up with a pretty cool guy from our orientation unit who was also attending the retreat (shout- out to Jesse Winter!). Of course the place they stayed was gorgeous and it wasn’t all sessions and learning, I hear they even got to dance!

While Laura, Kristen and Jesse reunited on the West Coast, I got to spend time with Katie Furrow (also a unit 307er) in the Nation’s Capital. She is directing the Washington DC workcamp with me so we got to spend a wonderful two days re-connecting, sight-seeing, visiting organizations and planning for the workcamp!

Theresa made it to Seattle on Monday for a workcamp site visit out West! She told me that she has already had some famous Seattle coffee!

One of the perks of traveling is getting to visit places that are special to us! Last week (before California) Kristen got to go to Manchester University with Ben to help with recruitment at their career fair. As a Manchester alum she was a huge help in making connections with professors and current students. I heard that she was a total rockstar on campus!

At the end of this week Laura and I get the very special opportunity to go to Juniata College’s career fair for BVS recruitment. I know we are both looking forward to being on campus again and sharing about our BVS experience so far.

It’s been awhile since we’ve all been together in the house, and this is just the start of the busy travel season. 
Let the crazy, fun times begin! 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A fun weekend!

This past weekend we had lots of fun with friends and family from Highland Avenue! Let me break it down for ya. 

On Friday evening we had a potluck dinner and movie night at the Lehman's house. In Sunday School we have been watching a series on Islam and discussing Muslim/ Christian relations. So, we watched the movie "Arranged," which was about an Orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman, who became friends during their first year of teaching. They bonded over the fact that both of them were in the process of meeting spouses for their arranged marriages. It was a really good movie, and I highly recommend it! 

Saturday was nice and relaxing. We walked around the local mall, ate lots of chocolate, watched Pitch Perfect, and Jessie finally returned home from orientation! 

On Sunday, for the Offertory at church, Ben, Kristen, Don Knieriem, and I did special music.   Kristen played piano (Hannah turned pages!), Don played guitar, Ben sang, and I danced to the hymn "Be Thou My Vision." After church we had an open house! It was great to be able to have people from the offices and church over, especially people who had never been here before. Kristen's parents were here visiting for the weekend, and they kindly provided the snacks. We (okay mostly Ben) gave many tours of the house. On Sunday night, I watched "Mean Girls" at the church with the Spirited Sisters group. It was fun to watch the movie with people who had never seen it before. Lots of laughter and the popcorn was yummy!  

Kristen, Theresa, Ben, Jessie, and Hannah right before the open house started! We were only missing Laura, who returned from a fun weekend in Chicago about an hour later.

Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Orientation observations

This past Friday we had a visitor come through the BVS office - Genelle! She was one of the Orientation Coordinators for my unit (along with Callie) and was in town visiting her sister, LeAnn. We reminisced a bit about my unit, talking about where everyone was and what they were up to. It got me to thinking about the differences of our BVS orientation experiences here within the house.

There were 31 volunteers in Unit 277. We split our orientation time between two Missouri towns: Peace Valley (pop: 455) and Kansas City (pop: 464,310). The only time we slept in real beds was at the Missouri-Arkansas District Conference and Internet availability was largely non-existent for us. I headed off to Colorado at the end of orientation where I wouldn't know anyone for a few hundred miles in any direction. This would be my first of three projects plus a stint in Portland, Ore.

Here's Theresa's unit, #303, which began a year and a half ago. She had a full unit of 24 (apparently 31 was a bit much) and roughly three quarters of her unit has already finished their time in BVS. She went to Texas for her project, where I think the only person she knew upon her arrival was her housemate whom she had met three weeks earlier at the beginning of her orientation in New Windsor, Md. Theresa is now in her second year of BVS in a much different setting and workplace than last year.

Jessie was in a winter unit, 304, which meant they met in Gotha, Fla. for their three weeks together. At 13 members, her unit was larger than many winter orientations, but still the smallest unit among those in the Elgin house here. Jessie was the first BVSer at her project in New York and only had five other volunteers with her for her mid-year retreat last summer. Jessie's unit is also unique in that possibly only one volunteer from the entire unit will be done with their term of service exactly one year after beginning due to some not making it a year, taking two-year international placements, or serving at an interim project while they waited for their first choice to open up.

Unit 307 went through orientation this past fall and included Hannah, Kristen, and Laura. At 17 members, it's a somewhat small unit for the fall. Like Theresa, they met in New Windsor, Md. for their orientation. They were a younger unit than many, too - eight of the volunteers from this group are still teens. Unlike Jessie, Theresa, and me, it was already known where Hannah, Kristen, and Laura would be going after orientation because it had been decided months before.

It's interesting to think about how our orientation experiences shape our time in BVS. I never occurred to me that not every unit gelled like mine until I got to my first mid-year retreat and met the summer unit. Surely technology plays a role as well with access to things such as Facebook, cell phones, and texting. SnapChat is pretty popular with some of the housemates here for keeping up with what's going on with other volunteers at their projects. To imagine what it would've been like to enter into a program like this twenty or thirty years ago is pretty wild. Brief phone calls and snail mail letters must have been a remarkably sustaining energy source.

And then there's the current unit, 308, that is down in Gotha, Fla. with Jessie and Jocelyn. This isn't a picture of a food group, but the entire unit - all six of them. There are some similarities that surely we all would recognize - food runs on small budgets, trying to stay awake during sessions, curiosity and awe for the new place they are staying, etc. They're even roughly half from Brethren backgrounds like all of our units were (which is not always true - only one out of 12 from the summer unit, for example). What awaits them when they reach whatever comes after orientation is still anyone's guess. Maybe one of them will even end up here in the Elgin BVS house someday and they'll get a chance to tell their story on here, too.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Estate Sale Extravaganza!

As many of you probably know, part of BVS means living on a simple budget. But, the fun in that means figuring out how to have fun as a house without spending a whole lot of dough. 
So, last Saturday we all adventured to the next town over to check out an estate sale. 
I, personally love secondhand adventures: thrift stores, church bazaars, and yard sales are like treasure hunts to me. I know that many other people in our house enjoy secondhand shopping as well. I've heard of people finding some hidden treasures at estate sales, but I have never gotten to go to one. 
If you don't know what an estate sale is, basically when an elderly person passes away or moves to a nursing home or something of the like, they or their family may choose to have an estate sale. The house is open to the public and you move from room to room looking at different items and see if anything catches your eye. Also, it is kind of interesting to catch a glimpse of someone else's life. For instance, the estate sale that we visited, the woman that lived there had many dachshund themed items and from pictures in the house, you knew they had a beloved pup. 

We certainly all had a lot of fun searching for items that we enjoyed or suggesting items for other housemates. 

So, for this week's blog, I decided to share everyone's favorite items! 

Theresa found this adorable shamrock mug for only $2!

Kristen found this unique vintage journal for $0.75. 

Ben found a couple household items, including some non-alcoholic sparkling juices - which we enjoyed for our anti-Super Bowl/Snow Day party today! These yummy drinks were only a $1 per bottle. 

Finally, I found this amazing floral rug for only $1! 

Hannah wasn't with us because she was in New Orleans for a workcamp site visit, while Jessie is still in Florida for orientation. We can't wait to hit up another sale with them in the future!